Hi there! Sorry this took a little longer to get it posted. There are some changes I want to make to the next one, but hopefully it won't take to long! I hope you enjoy and thank you for all the favs and comments! :)

The Neutral Zone:

Jean Luc took a sip from his glass as he looked around the room. Settling his eyes on the most beautiful woman, he frowned as his beverage (what Sonny called a martini) slid down his throat. Trying not to focus on her to attract attention, he let his eyes wonder around the rest of the room. The holodeck was packed with several of the crew and their families. After their stand-off with the Romulans, the crew reacted enthusiastically to the party as a way to relax and unwind.

Sighing into his glass, he took another sip of the offensive liquid wanting very much to leave the party and go back to his quarters – with Beverly. Finding her again and allowed himself to look at her for longer than it was appropriate. With her, he felt this warmth that he had never felt before. When they were alone he felt like he could take on the universe with both hands tied behind his back. However, when they were out in public, he had made it very clear to never show affection towards each other. It was his idea and as much as he wanted to take her in his arms and kiss her, he held back. He barely knew his crew… what would they say? What would they think?

That you're a normal human male with needs and wants...

Beverly had told him that after the time they were almost caught in the act by Wesley. He all but ran from her quarters after they had made an excuse as to why he was there in the first place. When he had caught up to her to explain himself, she was furious. He told her that he didn't want anyone to know – that he wanted to keep his private life private. At the time he thought it was a simple request, but when she kept asking him why he wanted it that way he yelled out "What would they think of me if they saw us together?"

She shook her head for a moment laughing to herself. "What would they think if they saw us together? Is that all you care about? What other people would think?"

As she repeated his question, he knew that it was a stupid thing to say. "Beverly, you know what-"

"You know what they would think if they saw you in a healthy relationship?" She sauntered up to him slowly, "Not just with me, mind you, but with any woman." Leaning in so close that he could feel her breath on his cheek, she murmured, "That you're a normal human male with needs and wants…" She quietly kissed his lips. After a moment, she turned and walked to the door. When she got there, she paused, "And if they were to see us tonight, Jean Luc, they would have thought you were a fool." When the door opened, she walked out without a glance back.

He took the following week sending her messages and apologies, but it was too little too late. He was called to an emergency conference on _ and he wasn't able to see her until he walked into Sickbay to see the survivors. They hadn't had a chance to be with each other since that night she walked out – and it seems that fate won't be kind to him either… not with her new orders from Starfleet Medical.

Not wanting to draw attention to the fact that he was staring, he continued to look around the crowded and festive room. Just as he was noticing Sonny bring out his guitar, he felt someone watching him. Knowing it was her, he tried to shake the feeling as he took another sip from his drink. After a moment, he could no longer resist taking a peek at her.

Seeing that he was watching her, Beverly mischievously looked around the room and when she was sure that no one was looking, she winked at him.

That was the sign. Trying to contain his own smile, he downed the rest of his drink and started to make his way over to her.

Data squeezed through the throng of people and grabbed his attention, "Captain, how do you like the party? Is it a humdinger?"

Jean Luc took his eyes off of Beverly and cocked his head to the side, "Umm… humdinger?"

Nodding his head, Data said, "Yes sir. As in extraordinary, amazing, bizarre, a doozy, hot stuff-"

Jean Luc held up his hand and smiled, "Thank you, Data. Yes, this party is quite…" he glimpsed over to Beverly, "remarkable."

"Did you try the martinis, sir?"

"I did. It was quite the rock gut." Seeing Data giving him a quizzical look, he patted him on his shoulder and said, "If you would excuse me."

Data nodded. When the Captain turned away, his forehead crinkled as he silently mouthed, "Rock gut."

Seeing that Jean Luc was coming towards her, Beverly hid her excitement behind her complaisant smile and listened blandly to the person talking to her. Oh yes, she should be mad at him for his unwillingness to be a normal person, but after weeks of not being with him and their run in with the Romulans and the new change happening very soon, she decided to swallow her pride. She wanted to be with him, and she was willing to put off their talk for at least one night. Again she swallowed down her excitement. She had winked at Jean Luc for a reason; it was their code for 'I need you now.'

She had only used it once before when they had both seen each other in the arboretum. She was there to collect samples and he was showing a visitor around the ship before they were to beam down to their planet. She knew it was unprofessional, but she couldn't resist the tease. After all, it would be silly to think that Jean Luc would actually leave his guest at the drop of a hat. When they had met each other in his quarters a few hours later, it was like fireworks had blissfully exploded. Afterwards, he had told her not to do that to him again, however, before she could respond, she was called away to Sickbay. After thinking about what he had said, she smiled mischievously at her computer terminal and sent him a one-word private message; "Never."

Shaking her head of the most magnificent thoughts, she felt a ping of giddiness in the pit of her stomach. She had never acted like this, even when she was younger. It was oddly exhilarating. In the back of her mind she knew it would end soon, but that just made everything more daring, more exhilarating, more… just more.

When Jean Luc had walked up to her, she gave him a cheshire smile, "Captain, Mr. Offenhouse and I were just discussing cryogenics. It's actually quite fascinating."

He knew that she was trying to rile him up and he also knew that it was working. "Interesting, however doctor, we have a meeting that we need to attend. Please excuse us, Mr. Offenhouse."

The older financer held his nose in the air and nodded, "Of course, Captain." He held out his hand to Beverly and softly said, "Doctor, it was a pleasure to talk to you. Perhaps we can continue our discussion over dinner."

Before she could say anything, Jean Luc curtly said, "She will be busy all week. If you will excuse us." He turned to her and pinned her with a 'don't-argue-with-me' stare, "Doctor." Without waiting for a reply, he placed his hand on the small of her back and guided her out of the party. As far as he considered it, this public display of affection was adding fuel to the rumor fire. It's something he would normally abhor, but at the moment, he could care less. Someone had made a move onto Beverly and in his mind that was unacceptable. In fact, it infuriated him. However, the back of his mind reasoned that she technically wasn't taken for. They weren't officially a couple, but the few nights they had spent together since their time on Earth was more than enough for him to designate them as a couple –at least in his mind.

By the time they stepped into the turbolift together, Beverly sighed and lightly said, "You didn't have to be rude to him."

"Hurmph… he was making a pass at you." It was slightly childish, but again, he didn't care. "Halt!" He turned to Beverly and stepped into her personal space. "You were the one who gave the sign. What did you think my reaction would be?"

She placed both of her hands on his chest wrestling with herself on what she should do next. Under normal circumstances, she would have found a way to provoke him, but with the news she had to tell him, she held back. She had given him the sign, but the nauseous feeling in her gut was making her second-guessing herself; was this the right thing to do or should she just tell him. She didn't want to lead him on but at the same time she just wanted them to be a normal couple. After a moment of hesitation, she gave him a darling smile and said, "Something along those lines."

He leaned in and kissed her hard. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he closed his eyes and allowed himself to get lost in her touch. Feeling her arms slip around his neck, he pressed his body closer to hers. After hearing her moan, he backed her against the bulkhead. After a few glorious minutes of feeling like he was the closest thing to Heaven, he leaned out of the kiss and rested his forehead on hers. "Beverly, can we continue this somewhere else?" He grabbed her cheeks and continued to softly kissed her.

She nodded and whispered, "Let's go back to my quarters. Wesley is on a camping trip with some of his classmates in the holodeck. He won't be home tonight." She gently pushed him back and said, "Resume course." She slid her hand down and grabbed Jean Luc's hand. Feeling the muscles tense, she squeezed his hand and let go when the doors opened. Walking out first, Beverly led the way to her quarters with Jean Luc close behind. When she heard the doors close, she quickly turned and wrapped her arms around his neck. Leaning in, she whispered, "I love it when you get jealous. Your brow crinkles and you purse your lips. You look so cute." Looking into his eyes, she timidly kissed him on his cheek and wiggled out of his embrace. "Would you like some supper?"

Confused at her change of intimacy, he nodded lifelessly as he stared off into space. He was not used to her being so nervous with him. Something was definitely on her mind and he had an idea as to what it was. However, he had promised himself that it was her news to bring up, not his.

Beverly looked into the replicator and said, "Two bowls of chicken noodle soup." When it materialized, she placed the bowls on the table and looked over to Jean Luc. Still in his own thoughts, she threw a napkin at him and said, "Penny for your thoughts."

As the napkin caught his face, he looked up confused, "What is a penny?"

Beverly placed a hand on her hip and coyly smiled, "It's an expression, Jean Luc. What's on your mind?"

He put the napkin on the table and shook his head, "Nothing is on my mind. I'm just thinking." To his surprise, Beverly walked over to him and sat in his lap. He sighed contently as he wrapped his arms around her waist bringing her closer to him. He loved the weight of her on his lap. To him it was oddly comforting. He leaned in and kissed her in his favorite spot on her neck (right below her ear).

Beverly was hesitant first, but then gave into his embrace. To her, it felt like all night she had been a rollercoaster with her feelings towards him; wanting things to go further and then pulling back at the last minute. Once more, she felt the knot in her stomach start to tighten. She knew that she had to tell him the news. It was now or never, but she was afraid… afraid of his reaction… afraid of what he might say to her. Though, in her heart of hearts, she knew that they could work this out… couldn't they?

Feeling her hesitancy, Jean Luc leaned back and quietly said, "Seems like you need the penny now."

Sighing, she wrapped her arms around his chest and laid her head down on his shoulders.

They stayed wrapped together in each other's arms for a while. Both not wanting to say what had to be said and fearful of what could happen next.

Leaning back out of her warm embrace, Jean Luc lightly grabbed Beverly's cheek and said, "Please tell me."

She looked deep into his eyes and saw the pleading in his gray eyes that mirrored in his voice. Right then and there, she knew that with all the wit and charm that she had, nothing was going to stop this train wreck. "You know."

Letting his hand fall from her cheek to her lap, Jean Luc slowly nodded. "I knew since the conference. Dr. Sorenth is very excited that you will be heading up Starfleet Medical this coming year." He took a deep breath, "As am I." However, his voice was anything but excited.

She grabbed both of his cheeks with her hands, "I meant to tell you when you got back from the conference, but with those crazy survivors and the Romulans, I didn't get a chance to talk to you until tonight. It's only for a year. Then I'll be back on the Enterprise… if you still want me." She felt awkward saying those words. Before they had started their relationship, she was very secure with herself as the CMO on the Enterprise. Now, she was nervous; not knowing how their relationship would change the security of her job on this ship that has become her home in so little time.

He shook his head, "If you have the opportunity to stay there, then you should." Looking into her eyes and feeling her body tense, Jean Luc knew that he had said the wrong thing. Before she could leave his lap, he grabbed her hands and said, "That did not come out right. Please forgive me. What I meant to say was that if the opportunity arises that you could receive a promotion, then stay at Starfleet Medical. You're a great leader; it would be ridiculous for them not to promote you. However, if you wish to return to the Enterprise, then your position will always be open to you."

"Then what about us?"

Jean Luc hesitated, not knowing how to say what he needed to say. He wasn't so sure that the distance between them could help their relationship. In fact, he knew from personal experiences that long distant relationships didn't end well. And when it ended, it was brutal and heartbreaking. And that was with a woman he didn't love, what would it be like if his relationship failed with a woman he's been in love with for twenty years.

At his silence, Beverly slipped out from his lap and began to pace the room. After a couple of rounds, she turned to him and placed her hands on her hips. "There won't be an 'us', will there?"

Jean Luc stood up slowly, "Beverly-"

She shook her head, "Don't 'Beverly' me." She took a moment to get ahold of her anger. Then a thought hit her like a ton of bricks and for a moment she couldn't breathe. She walked up to him and quietly said, "You're scared."

"Damn right I'm scared!" he yelled. He turned away from her, not wanting her to see the emotions races across his face.

She walked up to him, her anger already forgotten and slid her arms around his waist. "There is nothing for you to be scared about. It will only be one year."

He sagged against her touch and her warm breath on his neck. "I know."

She leaned her head against the back of his shoulder, "Then why are you scared?"

He hung his head. "What if this… doesn't work out? What if you find someone new? Our relationship… our friendship would be ruined and…" he took a deep breath, "and I don't think I would be able to move on so quickly. I value our friendship too much."

She let her arms falls to her sides and took a couple steps back. "Do you really think I would do that to you? That I would betray you?" Through her blurry tears, she saw him turn around.

He walked to her and wiped away her tears. "You are so beautiful. I don't want to hold you back, not with your career and certainly not with your love life." Jean Luc's heart pleaded with his brain to take back the hurtful words he had been saying. He wanted nothing more than to hold her in his arms, but he knew one thing for certain, he didn't want his heart to break when she came back with someone who was right for her. He knew that being her friend was more important to him than being her lover. He was safe. Although, when he held her at night and watched her sleep, he felt his heart soar to new places, places he thought never existed. Letting her leave was the safest way to keep their friendship, even though it was the hardest thing he had to do. But did he have too? Could they still have a relationship so far away? For a second he felt his chest soar, but then a picture flew into his mind of Beverly introducing him to her fiancé. She looked so happy, happier than she had ever been with him. His head fell down to his chest, wanting and willing that picture out of his head.

Seeing pain pass through his features, Beverly placed her hand on his shoulder, shaking him out of his thoughts. "You don't mean that, Jean Luc." She stepped closer to him, "I really think that we can work this out, together." With his silence, she grabbed his cheeks and whispered, "Please. Please say we can work this out."

It broke his heart to hear her plead with him, but he also knew he didn't want his own heart to break if she wanted someone else. At least this way, they could still remain friends.

When she saw him slightly shake his head, she turned away from him and leaned against the table.

He walked up behind her, not wanting to leave yet. "I'm sorry, Beverly. I feel th-"

She held her arms tight across her chest, willing herself not to cry. "You know Jean Luc, you don't have to be scared."

For one split second he thought about taking her into his arms again, whispering that he loves her, that he has always loved her. Then that same image of her with another man filled his mind. If something like that were to happen, their friendship would never survive. And her friendship meant more to him than risking everything on loving her. "We should be scared Beverly." He gave her a light kiss on her shoulder.

Feeling a tear slide down her cheek, she cleared her throat and softly said, "Please leave."

Slowly, Jean Luc turned around and made his way out of her quarters. The instant, the door closed, he felt like he had made the biggest mistake of his life. He had just walked out the best thing that ever happened to him. Instead of charging back in and apologizing for his harsh words, he walked away. He knew it was for the best. When he walked into the turbolift, he shook his head and asked himself, "Was it?"

One week later:

Beverly hugged Deanna tightly. "This isn't 'goodbye'. It's an 'I'll see you later'." Beverly stepped back and looked at her colleagues who had become close friends within their short time together. "So, I'll see you later." She beamed at them.

Will piped up by saying, "Until you come back, which you will be back soon, I'll keep up my end of the bargain."

Beverly's eyes twinkled as she replied, "You better and I'll be back, I promise. I wouldn't want to miss seeing you with a full fledge beard."

Everyone murmured their 'See you later's and their well wishes and then left the shuttlebay. Only Deanna and Wesley held back.

Beverly wrapped her arms around her son and brought him close to her. "Now when you get to Starbase 42, there will be a transport to pick you up and bring you to Earth. By that time, the apartment will be set up for the both of us."

Wesley smiled and hugged his mother again. "I love you mom."

Beverly sighed, "I love you too. Be careful."

One of the survivors from the space vehicles poked his head out of the shuttlecraft and said, "Can we get a move on? There are people I have to see." The old financer wrinkled his nose and went back into the shuttlecraft.

Wesley looked back at his mom and rolled his eyes, "Be careful as well and I'll see you soon." He gave her one last hug and then stepped back.

When a call over his communication device asked him to come to Engineering, he replied with, "On my way," and started to walk out of the hanger. Before the doors closed, he looked back and waved, and then he was gone.

Beverly sighed once more as she watched her son leave. "I have a feeling that I'm going to get a message from him saying that he wants to stay on the Enterprise."

Deanna smiled, "Would that be a bad thing?"

Deanna's question made Beverly think for a few moments. "No, it wouldn't. It would just make me want to come back sooner." The doors to the hanger swooshed opened and Beverly looked eagerly in that direction. An ensign came through, relieving the officer at the control panel. She closed her eyes and wished for the hundredth time that she wouldn't cry.

Deanna patted her on her shoulder and quietly said, "He said he would come. I imagine that he was held up."

She opened her eyes and coolly said, "I don't know what you're talking about. Well I must be going." She smiled warmly at her friend and said, "I'll see you soon."

Deanna hugged her and said, "Take care Beverly."

Beverly stepped onto the platform with one more willing glance back at the doors. When they didn't move, she walked into the shuttle and closed the doors. After a few moments, the shuttlecraft started its engine and then its decent out of the shuttlebay. Just as it cleared the forcefield, the doors to the hanger swooshed open and Captain Picard came rushing in. He stared at the retreating vehicle as it made its way to Starbase 302. "I thought that they were to beam over using transporter room 5. I came over here as fast as I could." But I was too late he finished in his head.

"Clare and Sonny were afraid to use the transporters, so Beverly decided to take them over by shuttlecraft." She glanced over towards the Captain and saw him chewing the side of his cheek. "Sir, you can send her a message explaining your misunderstanding. I'm sure she'll understand."

Jean Luc shook his head and made his way towards the door, "That won't be necessary Counselor."

Deanna shook her head and made her own way out. She had this nagging feeling that there was something different about Beverly, but she didn't know what. She knew that she and the captain were somehow involved and they had some sort of falling out but it was something deeper than that. It was almost as if, Beverly had physically changed. And despite the overwhelming sadness she felt from the doctor, on the outside she was glowing. Deanna shrugged at her nagging feeling, telling herself that in her own time, Beverly would come to her.